The regular-season unveiling of the secret weapon that is Malik Cunningham was … rather uneventful.

Cunningham, the Patriots’ exciting rookie quarterback/wide receiver, played just six snaps in Sunday’s 21-17 loss to the Las Vegas Raiders and accounted for zero yards of total offense at Allegiant Stadium.

The undrafted Louisville product lined up as a wideout on three of his snaps and was not targeted. On the first of his two QB opportunities, he handed off to running back Rhamondre Stevenson on an apparent read-option. Cunningham was sacked on his lone dropback, which came midway through the fourth quarter.

The 25-yea-rold also aligned under center on one snap, then motioned out to receiver. Center David Andrews snapped the ball directly to running back Ezekiel Elliott, who ran it in for a 2-yard touchdown.

Story continues below advertisement

Overall, it was a quiet NFL debut for Cunningham, who was signed to the 53-man roster off the practice squad one day earlier. He surprisingly was tabbed as the primary backup for quarterback Mac Jones, with Bailey Zappe demoted to emergency third string, but Jones played all but three snaps and attempted every Patriots pass in the loss.

    What do you think?  Leave a comment.

Head coach Bill Belichick declined multiple chances to explain why he made Cunningham the team’s QB2 and wouldn’t say whether the Patriots will keep the same depth chart (Jones, then Cunningham, then Zappe, then Will Grier) for this Sunday’s Week 7 matchup with the Buffalo Bills.

Belichick did, however, share some insight Monday on why the Patriots chose to officially add Cunningham to the roster rather than using a temporary P-squad elevation for him.

Story continues below advertisement

“Malik’s improved a lot during the course of the year, both at receiver and in the kicking game and some of the snaps that he’s taken at quarterback,” Belichick said in a video conference. “We didn’t really get too much of a chance to see him (Sunday). It was a tough situation. They made a good call and hit us on a perimeter blitz there (on his sack). But he’s been good to work with, he’s made a lot of improvement, and we’ll see where it goes.”

No Matchup Found

Click here to enter a different Sportradar ID.

Cunningham said he found out last Tuesday that he’d have a gameday role for the first time. He said he increased his quarterback reps in practice last week while continuing to work at receiver and on special teams.

“I was just humbled,” Cunningham said. “I just knew that I had put the work in on the (scout) team and eventually, the time would happen.”

Story continues below advertisement

We’ll see if Cunningham’s role continues to grow in the weeks ahead. He’s unlikely to unseat Jones, who showed improvement Sunday after two ugly outings, as the Patriots’ starting QB but could add a jolt of athleticism and playmaking ability to an offense that hasn’t scored more than 20 points in any game this season.

Featured image via Eric Canha/USA TODAY Sports Images